‘Worst is yet to come’ as Florence continues to flood Carolinas

In Wilmington, the state's eighth-largest city, residents waited for hours outside stores and restaurants for basic necessities like water.

"A lot of people have evacuated already", said Denise Harper, a resident of Grifton, a small North Carolina town threatened by rising water levels in a nearby creek and the River Neuse.

Another, odder and more risky aviation problem: Officials begged the public to stop flying drones, which they said threatened rescue flights by the North Carolina National Guard as well as 10 other states that lent military helicopters for emergency service.

Storm total accumulations of 30 to 40 inches in southeast North Carolina are forecast.

Deadly storm Florence drenched North and SC with yet more downpours on Sunday, damaging tens of thousands of homes and threatening worse flooding as rivers fill to bursting point.

The center of the storm made landfall around 7:15 a.m. Friday near Wrightsville Beach, N.C., close to the SC border.

"Not only are you going to see more impact across North Carolina this week ... but we're also anticipating you are about to see a lot of damage going through West Virginia, all the way up to OH as the system exits out", said Brock Long of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

At least 15 people have died since Florence made landfall Friday as a Category 1 hurricane near Wrightsville Beach, 10 in North Carolina and five in SC.

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Coast Guard helicopter crews from across the Coast Guard have rescued 133 people and 20 pets in North Carolina since Hurricane Florence began.

"This is still a catastrophic, life threatening storm", said Zack Taylor, a meteorologist with the US National Weather Service's Weather Prediction Center.

Good news for the Carolinas as now Tropical Depression Florence moves out of the area.

A cross is seen in flood water at a cemetary in Grifton, North Carolina on September 16, 2018. Major river flooding is expected on some rivers from southern Virginia to northern SC, including most of North Carolina.

More than 900 people were rescued from rising floodwaters and 15,000 remained in shelters in the state, Cooper said. "We want you home but you can't come yet".

Of those deaths, 13 took place in North Carolina and five in SC. "We don't have any control over this amount of water", she said, warning residents it was time think about heading out: "We suggest that if you have the ability to seek shelter elsewhere, you should do so". "But they will. And the question is how high will the water be, and we do not know".

Additionally, a few tornadoes "remain possible" Sunday and Monday across North Carolina and eastern SC. At 5 a.m. Sunday, the storm was centered about 20 miles southwest of Columbia, S.C. Its winds were down to 35 mph.

The White House said President Donald Trump would visit the storm-ravaged region in the coming days, but only after it is determined his arrival would not disrupt continuing rescue and recovery efforts.

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